Culture Shock in L.A.


by ariane

I have recently moved to LA and I'm facing culture shock. it's not due the ways of the American culture or the size of food portions or any other aspect of the American society. I've spent most of my life in western societies and have seen enough things that very little aspect of western culture surprises me. 

My culture shock, incidentally, comes from seeing my fellow Iranians here and comparing them with their counterparts in Europe and Dubai (places that I have lived in).

What impresses and extremely surprises me is the fact Iranians in Los Angeles are very successful, proud, disciplined, respected, and generally law abiding citizens and surprisingly they support each other. A phenomenon which is becoming very rare in other countries that Iranian have settled in the last three decades or so.

In Dubai, for instance, and increasingly in the last 5 years, Iranians are normally after a quick buck, and once they have attained that, the are on the next flight to the next pirate destination. The lack of language means that they normally find their victims among other fellow Iranians, themselves looking for a quick buck. So it comes down to who is wittier at then end. Dubai court is stacked up with cases of Iranians vs. Iranians while the prisons have a sizable presence of our fellow ctizens put their by fellow Iranians. The temporary local residency and citizenship laws of the UAE and unstable nature of tis society further encourages these actions.

In Europe on the other hand , generous assylum laws have generated a class of fellow Iranians who rely heavily on government welfare. An attitude that encourages less integration into the respective society and further alienation of the individual and development of a low achieving class of our compatriots. Bad media means that many Iranians in Europe go through arduous means to conceal their true heritage. Stories of Iranian guys pretending to be Italians are a common laughing stock.

There are also the fights and disorderly conduct in concerts and other public gatherings of Iranians in the above societies. No concert night is complete without a group of hamvatans smashing beer bottles on each other heads.

Of course, there are a lot of Iranian success stories in the above societies too, but there is the general lack of Iranian cohesiveness and the majority follows trends such as the ones mentioned above.

Here in LA though, I have not seen such behaviours yet. I just went to a 13 be dar gathering last week in Thousand Oak and I was shocked by the level of discipline, good nature, and public orderliness Iranians practiced. No one kicked the shit out the other, no one made a move on somebody else's wife.

Here, Iranians actually help each other, support the local business and are proud to be "Persians".

I am sure there is a sociological explanation to this phenomenon, perhaps the age of the Iranian diaspora in LA is more than other countries, so the community has matured. May be that the confidence stems from the tolerance of the American government and society towards the minorities. May be the fact that every one here in the US is an immigrant in one way or the other. I'm not quite sure! 

Whatever the reason, I have long forgotten how to be a proud Iranians for a long time now. The Iranian community in LA have got that feeling back to me again. So, hats off to them. 


more from ariane
Maryam Hojjat

Very good Impression

by Maryam Hojjat on

Thanks ariane for you blog and sharing with us your feeling about our compatriotes in different countries.

David ET

been there done that..

by David ET on

Dear Ariene

California Iranians been there and done all the mishaps that you mentioned in the earlier years from some fighting at each concert to financially ripping and backstabbing each other off at every possibility.

But as you correctly mentioned the immigrant nature of America, its Capitalism and laws, the size of the population helped ....and like you said over time "the community has matured " and learned that in order to survive and advance , it must empower each other(and therefore ourself) and not vice versa.


Having said all that, I also feel the obligation to politely add a word of caution for our new LA resident:

DISCLAIMER: Nashashidi shab deraaze

Azarin Sadegh

Welcome to LA!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Ariane, I totally agree with you!

I've lived in Europe, in Silicon Valley and in LA...and by far, LA has been the best. I love the Iranian community in LA and in OC too. I find us to be caring and supportive. Plus, my kids finally feel proud to be Iranian and show enthusiasm for learning Persian.

Of course, you're going to see some of those "plastic surgery addicted" crowd in LA, but they are mostly non-Iranians, wanna-be-movie star! But I think it is normal for a city where the movie industry is one of its major sources of income and success. 

Welcome to LA!



The reason I am in such a

by ariane on

The reason I am in such a shock is that before coming here, I, like many, haveheard all those bad stories about Iranians in LA. You know, the BMWs and boob jobs. But beside the the normal Iranian dismissive story, seeing a cohesive Iranian society, which can be an example that given the right platform, Iranian society can ctually work, is very pleasing and encouraging.



You are right

by iamfine on

The older generation still kept their culture and no hope for change (lost cause). On the other hand, the new generation have much much better chance of being successful and have more respect for their hamvatan. A good example is the radio station 670am that we have in the southern California, which I don't think Iranians have that in other countries.

Jahanshah Javid

Good to hear

by Jahanshah Javid on

Hearing good things about Los Angeles is rare. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It has certainly made a positive impact on my opinion.


Interesting post. Nothing

by alx1711 on

Interesting post. Nothing on Australia :). (hint-hint)

i surelly will visit LA.